A guide for Pinterest virgins: 7 tips for planning a wedding online.

One of the very first things many brides-to-be do after they get engaged is sign into Pinterest. (Guilty!)

More than just a social network of pretty pictures, Pinterest has become the resource for wedding-related research — even for women who aren’t yet affianced.

Though, as many of us know all too well, Pinterest can be a major time suck and even a source of stress when you start feeling overloaded by idea after idea after idea. But it definitely doesn’t need to be. To use the site to its fullest potential — and your advantage — implement these strategies for pinning like a total boss.

1. Keep your wedding board secret.

If you haven’t already, switch your wedding ideas board to “secret” so you can keep it to yourself or just share it with a chosen few while you plan. Keeping your pins under wraps will eliminate unneeded pressure and expectations you may put on yourself (or projected expectations you may feel from others) to only pin amazing, beautiful things. Besides, sometimes you’ll want to pin articles on topics like “how to get away with not inviting people who invited you to their wedding” (for example), about which you’d want to be discreet.

2. Follow, follow, follow.

Rather than simply browsing the full “wedding” section of Pinterest, start following tastemakers you admire, blogs you love, wedding planners in your area and other pinners whose boards you dig. This will allow you to find more curated pins that are tailored to your tastes and wants rather than having to sort through a bunch of random wedding pins that kinda-sorta match what you’re going for.


3. Search for specific ideas.

Use Pinterest as a search engine for projects you may want to implement at your wedding to avoid feeling completely inundated by random ideas. For example, if you’re interested in potentially having a dessert bar, search for that specifically so you can spend your pinning time wisely. Doing this also helps you focus on each task in turn so you can start ticking decisions off of your to-do list.


4. Peep potential vendors.

Pinterest isn’t just about finding gorgeous ideas, it’s a great way to research local vendors. Once you have some potential florists or photographers in mind, check out their accounts and see if your aesthetic matches theirs. You may feel instantly feel a connection with someone’s boards, or you may realize that your visions are just too different. After you’ve secured your vendors, add them as viewers or pinners to your secret wedding board so they can continue to understand what you want. This is especially important when you’re planning a destination wedding so the pros you’ve hired can truly get your vibe.

5. Take advantage of the Pin-It button.

Rather than relying on images that others have already pinned, break out from Pinterest and use the handy Pin-It button to source your own ideas. Check out wedding blogs, Etsy, or even totally non-wedding resources like where you can watch runway shows to get a glimpse of future colors and trends you may want to incorporate into your big day. You may just find amazing inspiration in unexpected places.


6. Take a break.

If you log in every single day (or even more than a couple times a week), you’ll start to notice that the same pins keep coming up again and again. So, a couple weeks after pinning a bunch to your board, take some time away. Then, revisit your pins again with fresh eyes–you may start to notice that things you wanted or loved at the beginning (or even last week!) aren’t necessarily what you’ll want to go with as you move forward with the planning process. Continue to narrow down your vision by taking short breaks and then deleting pins that no longer suit your aesthetic.

7. Stay true to your vision–and yourself.

It’s all too easy to feel like your wedding can never measure up to the pins you see. But remember that it doesn’t need to: Your wedding is simply about you and your spouse-to-be getting married. Plus, some of those “wedding” pins aren’t even from actual weddings, but are really styled shoots that took months to plan and thousands of dollars to orchestrate. Use Pinterest for inspiration but don’t feel like you have to have everything that everyone else has. Instead take a few key ideas you love and run with them. Excited to DIY? Don’t worry that your wedding isn’t “chic enough.” Want clean lines and modern touches? Don’t stress that your big day won’t feel “hand-made enough.” In the end, it’s all about having an amazing day with people you love most.

Jennifer Arreguin and Natasha Burton are the co-owners of swoon california, an event planning company based in Santa Barbara, CA. 

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post and has been republished here with full permission.